President-Elect and Six Others to Mark 50th Jubilee

Sister Antoinette Gutzler, MM, president-elect of Maryknoll Sisters, will be one of seven members of the congregation marking 50 years as Maryknoll Sisters at a Mass being celebrated Sunday, October 12, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. in the Main Chapel at Maryknoll Sisters Center. The Mass will also be broadcast via livestream on the Maryknoll Sisters website.

A theologian who is currently teaching at the Fu Jen University Faculty of Theology of St. Robert Bellarmine, Taipei, Taiwan, Sister Antoinette was born in Brooklyn, NY and entered Maryknoll in 1964 at its Topsfield, MA, novitiate from St. Gabriel’s Parish, Queens, NY.

A graduate of Fordham University, Bronx, NY, where she earned an M.A., M. Phil. and Ph.D in systematic theology, she also holds a B.A. in theology from Mundelein College, Chicago, IL, and an A.A. in liberal arts from Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY.

Following her formation years, Sister Antoinette worked briefly in the Purchasing Department at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, concentrating on earning her A.A. at Mary Rogers College from 1968-1969 and then her B.A. in theology from Mundelein in 1971.

In 1971, she received her first overseas assignment to Tanzania, East Africa.  After studying Swahili in Musoma, she was assigned to Mwanza where, from 1972-1974, she taught religion to secondary school students and helped begin a center for high school students.  She made her final vows there on March 10, 1973.

Sister Antoinette then returned to the United States, working first as a secretary in the congregation’s Education department from January – November 1975, followed by two years speaking about the congregation on behalf of its Development Department at local churches and schools in the New England area.

Sister Antoinette was then assigned to Taiwan in 1978.  She studied both Mandarin and Taiwanese and worked as director of the Solidarity Young Workers Center from 1979-1988.

Following four years as Director of Personnel at Maryknoll Sisters Center and six years earning her graduate degrees at Fordham, Sister Antoinette returned to Taiwan in 2001, where she began teaching at the School of Theology at Fu Jen University, while also doing research and responding to invitations to present lectures throughout Taiwan and other Asian countries.

Sister Antoinette’s recent publications include: “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: ‘Women Matters’ as an Asian Theological Concern” (2011); “Am I My Sister’s Keeper?” The “Internalization and Globalization of Women’s Homelessness: A Taiwan Perspective” (2010); “Navigating the Tradition: A Christian Feminist Perspective on the Power of Creedal Language to Shape the Lives of Women”(2008); “Entering the Silence: A Christmas Meditation” (2008) and “Shadow Lives/Public Faces: Women, Marriage and Family Life in Taiwan” (2008).

She  is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), The American Academy of Religion (AAR), consultant to the Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA), and a Standing Committee member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Association of Major Religious Superior in Taiwan.

Other Maryknoll Sisters also marking 50 years with the congregation include:

Sister Joanna Chan, MM, an award-winning artist, playwright and director.

The author of over 20 original plays and director of more than 60 stage productions, Sister Joanna has also produced more than 20 multimedia programs for the Diocesan Audio-Visual Center in Hong Kong.  She also serves as a playwright, director, playwriting/acting coach, and Scripture studies coordinator for inmates at Sing Sing Maximum Security Prison, Ossining, NY, where she has served since 2006.

Born in Hong Kong on August 14, 1939, Sister Joanna entered Maryknoll Sisters at their residence in Quezon City, Philippines, on June 1, 1964, making her final vows at the Sisters’ retreat house in Watch Hill, RI, on June 21, 1975.

A graduate of Columbia University, where she earned a Master of Arts in communications in 1971 and a Master of Education in 1974, Sister Joanna also holds a B.A. in mathematics from Maryknoll College, Manila, Philippines, and a diploma in science from Chung Chi College, Hong Kong.

Sister Joanna’s first assignment was teaching high school mathematics, Chinese literature and art at Maryknoll Convent School, Hong Kong, from 1961-63, and mathematics at Maryknoll High School, Quezon City, Philippines, from 1967-1978.  She also worked at Transfiguration Church, New York City, from 1969-1986, serving as its religious education coordinator from 1969-1976, as a teacher of English as a Second Language from 1973-1975, and as director of youth services and choir conductor from 1970-1976 and 1979-1986.

In 1970, Sister Joanna became co-founder of Four Seas Players, a community outreach program in New York City’s Chinatown for young people and recent immigrants. Its  purpose is to promote a spirit of harmony and cooperation through artistic involvement and to nurture an interest in and appreciation for the dramatic arts, especially in the tradition of Chinese culture and its relationship with the Western art form as seen in New York. The name “Four Seas” represents the first two Chinese characters in the ancient saying: “Within the four seas, all men are brothers .”

Sister Joanna served as artistic director of Four Seas Players until 1992, when she co-founded Yangtze Repertory Theatre, also in New York City, to produce works for and by Asian artists. Since then, it has become New York’s most significant entry point for dramatic works from Chinese-speaking countries and a place of collaboration for artists from various parts of Asia. Sister Joanna has served as artistic director of Yangtze since its inception, penning original works for the troupes, and adapting others for their use.

Sister Joanna’s other achievements include:

1970-1976    Committee Member, Chinese Cultural Festival, New York City
1971-1976    Member, Board of Directors, Arts Resources for Teachers and Students, Inc., New York City
1974-1977    Member, Chinatown Improvement Council, New York City
1975        Program Director, Opening Nine-Day Festival, U.S. Bicentennial, Chinatown, New York City
1975-1976    Program Director, The Chinese Community Salutes the Bicentennial, New York City
1976    Exhibition Creator, A Pictorial History of New York’s Chinatown, Chinese Beneveolent Association, New York City
1976-1977    Manager, Maryknoll Sisters Communications Office, Maryknoll, NY
1977-1979    Founder and First Supervisor, Diocesan Audio-Visual Center, Hong Kong
Member, Diocesan Advisory Commission on Social Communication, Hong Kong
1979-1982    Overseas Producer, Diocesan Audio-Visual Center, Hong Kong
1980-1986    Coordinator, Maryknoll China History Project, Maryknoll, NY
1986-1990    Artistic Director, Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Hong Kong
1991-present    Creator and Director, Maryknoll Sisters Heritage Exhibit, Maryknoll, NY
2005-2007    Member, Coordinating Committee, Mother Mary Joseph Rogers 50th Anniversary, Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY

Sister Virginia Farrell, MM, a nurse practitioner who has served in Vietnam, Peru, Nicaragua and Kentucky.

A graduate of the University of Connecticut, with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing, Sister Virginia entered Maryknoll at its residence in Valley Park, MO, on October 18, 1964, and made her final vows at Regina Maris, the Maryknoll Sisters retreat center in Watch Hill, RI, on June 22, 1974.

A veteran of the US Army Nurse Corps, who served in Korea, Germany, Vietnam and Nicaragua, before entering Maryknoll, Sister Virginia always wanted to be a nurse.  On a tour of duty in Pusan, Korea, during which she received the Bronze Star for meritorious service, Sister Virginia met the Maryknoll Sisters for the first time.  The Sisters, both of them physicians, were running a clinic in the city following the war, and Sister Virginia often volunteered there.  The US newspaper, Stars and Stripes, once referred to the Maryknoll clinic as “the longest charity line in the world.”

Sister Virginia encountered the Maryknoll Sisters again in another tour of duty, this time in Nicaragua. She worked as a volunteer once again for them, eventually doing so full-time in the gold mining town of Siunca in the Nicaraguan rainforest from 1963-1964.

Following her formal entry into Maryknoll, Sister Virginia served with the US Agency for International Development (AID) in Vietnam from 1968-1970, and with the World Health Organization, treating the injured in Peru following an earthquake in 1970. In 1971, she returned to Nicaragua where she organized a health clinic for WHO and Hope Hospital in Managua.

The following year, Sister Virginia returned to the States, working for a time with elderly and infirm Sisters at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY.  She then became head nurse of an extended care facility and coordinator of a hospital-wide education program at Appalachian Regional Hospital, Hazard, KY, from 1972-1976.  At her request, she was then appointed director of nursing services for the hospital, a position she held until in 1978 when continuing tensions resulting from a strike and financial difficulties at the hospital caused her to resign.

In 1979, she became hospital outreach coordinator at Ephraim McDowell Community Center Network in Hazard, KY, a position she held until 1980, and founder/executive director of Hazard/Perry County Community Hospice, a program she would oversee until her retirement in 1992. The hospice honored Sister Virginia for her work by naming a new wing in her honor on November 6, 2011.

Sister Maria Homberg, MM, director of Maryknoll Mission Institute, Maryknoll, NY, from 1997-2014.

Born in New York City, Sister Maria entered Maryknoll in 1964 at its Topsfield, MA, novitiate from Holy Rosary Parish, Hawthorne, NY. A graduate of Columbia University Teachers College, New York, NY, where she earned both an M.A and Ed. D. in education, as well as an M.Ed. in nursing education, she also holds a B.S. in nursing from College of Mt. St. Vincent, New York, NY.

Following her formation years, Sister Maria served as Director of Nursing Services at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Manapla, Philippines, from 1967-70, and as a college and residence nurse, as well as adjunct faculty member, teaching psychology in the Department of Social Work at Maryknoll College, Manila, Philippines, until 1972.

Upon her return to the United States in September 1972, Sister Maria worked briefly as a nurse in the Maryknoll Sisters Center infirmary until January 1973. She was then employed as an assistant professor of nursing at Pace University, from 1973-1980.

From 1981-1992, Sister Maria was an associate professor of nursing at Bethlehem University, Palestine, where she served as Dean of Nursing. At Bethlehem University, she instituted a post-graduate midwifery program to meet the needs of Palestinian women. She then was a member of the nursing faculty of the College of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, from 1993-1996.  She was named director of Maryknoll Mission Institute in 1997.

Sister Josephine Kollmer, MM, an educator and program founder who served for many years in Africa..

Sister Josephine taught elementary school students in the Massapequa Public Schools, Long Island, NY,  for 12 years prior to entering Maryknoll in 1964 at its motherhouse near Ossining, NY, Sister Josephine was born in East Moriches, NY, and entered Maryknoll from St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Mineola, NY.

A graduate of Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, where she earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education, Sister Josephine used her talents and skills as a teacher in Kenya, Zambia, Botswana and Lesotho from 1970-1978, making her final vows in Kenya in 1971.

Elected to the congregation’s central governing board in 1978, she served there during some historically difficult years, during which two of the congregation’s own members, Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, were killed in El Salvador.

Following completion of her term of leadership in 1984, Sister Josephine was sent to Zimbabwe, where she worked with an ecumenical team for leadership training of South African women  in a program sponsored by the Council of Churches in Zimbabwe.

In 1993, she relocated to Namibia, where she established the National Catechetical Program for the Namibian Bishops Conference and worked for 15 years in the formation of young women religious, seminarians and priests, as well as training lay catechists in parishes and mission stations throughout the country.

Sister Josephine returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2010.  She is now a member of the Eastern Region, living in Yonkers, where she is using her many skills as a volunteer in different programs.

Sister Marilyn Snediker, MM, missioner to Tanzania and Guatemala.

Born in Kankakee, IL, Sister Marilyn entered Maryknoll Sisters at its Valley Park, MO, residence in 1964. A graduate of Mt. Carmel Hospital School of Nursing, where she received her R.N. in 1952, she also studied at Purdue Univeristy, W. Lafayette, IL, as well as Mary Rogers College and Maryknoll Seminary, both in Maryknoll, NY, and received a certificate in midwifery from studies completed in London, England, in 1969.

Sister Marilyn began missionary life in 1968, administrating and training staff at a small rural hospital in Tarime, Tanzania, where she placed strong emphasis in her classes on preventative health care. Returning to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY, in 1972, she served as assistant director of the congregation’s Health Services Department, until her return to Tanzania in 1976.

Following eight months of language study, Sister Marilyn taught English as a Second Language and biology at the Diocesan Junior Seminary in Soni, Tanzania, from 1977-1979, returning to the Center in 1980, to work in Congregational services and as a member of Maryknoll Sisters’ Social Concerns office, where she served until 1987.

Sister Marilyn was then assigned to Guatemala, where she worked with a diocesan program for the promotion of women in Peten, a region located in the nation’s tropical rain forest, until 1993. Along with three other Maryknoll Sisters, Sister Marilyn provided basic evangelization classes, as well as courses in health and nutrition, handicrafts, and others, as requested by the students.  She then did pastoral work with women of San Jose Communidad in Mixco, a suburb of Guatemala City from 1994-1998.

Returning to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in New York in 1999, Sister Marilyn worked in the Information Service Office until 2007.

Sister Mary Vertucci, MM, founder of Emusoi Centre, an internationally recognized center for Maasai girls in Arusha, Tanzania.

Born in New Brunswick, NJ, Sister Mary entered Maryknoll at its Topsfield, MA, residence in 1964 from St. Matthias Parish, Somerset, NJ.  A 1970 graduate of the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ, with a B. S. in chemistry, Sister Mary also earned an associate’s degree at Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY, in 1968, and studied clinical pastoral education at Central Islip State Hospital, Central Islip, NY, in 1981-1982.

Following four  months of  language study  in Makoko, Tanzania, Sister Mary taught science and religion at Korogwe Girls Secondary School, Tanga, Tanzania, from 1972-1978,  making her final vows in Morogoro in 1972.  She then served as her congregation’s regional coordinator in Tanzania from 1978-81.

After a year spent in renewal, Sister Mary served in her congregation’s admissions office from 1982-1986, becoming its director in 1983.

She returned to Tanzania in 1987, where she was a teacher and youth worker for the Arusha Diocesan Youth Center and, later, Sekei Secondary School until 1992. She then served as bursar and teacher of math and bookkeeping at Murigha Girls School, Singida, and as regional treasurer for her congregation from 1993-1995.

After approximately a year on sabbatical, Sister Mary returned again to Tanzania and participated in a year and a half long research project among the Maasai of Arusha and Manyara Regions, looking into the educational needs of these areas. After working for a few months in the Arusha Diocese Financial Office, she founded Emusoi Centre in 1999 to provide high school age Maasai women with an opportunity for education. The Center’s success has gained it international attention, receiving visits from world leaders, among them Great Britain’s Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, and U.S. President George W. Bush.

In addition to directing Emusoi, Sister Mary has also served as Eastern Africa Coordinator for Dominican Sisters Africa from 1998-2004, and Treasurer for the same organization since 1998.